What’s in an ending?

Reading time: About 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss an article written by Kristopher Jansma.

I am frequently troubled by endings. I don’t like many of them. The applies not just to the departure of friends — whether to other cities or other realms — but also to the endings of most books and articles I read. I estimate I find about 75% of them wanting.

Thus, I was interested to read novelist Kristopher Jansma‘s reflections on endings in a recent edition of the New York Times Opinionator column.

I particularly like the way he concludes that, “endings need not be conclusions.”

The last hundred yards up the mountain are the steepest, he writes. The air is very thin and you cannot share it with your characters anymore. You have to leave them, along with everything you’ve written to that point. It is the last thing you want to do, but as you go higher you’ll get your first look at them from above. They become smaller somehow, as from the summit you can finally see the mountain in its entirety.

I’m not a fiction writer but I suspect that the authors I most admire feel the same way about endings. And I’m going to check out Jansma’s novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards.

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